30 September 2008

Ouzo is the source of many evils

There are a few unusual drinks that you come across in Greece. Ouzo is very popular. It is a spirit of 40% alcohol and is sugary and flavoured with aniseed, very similar to sambucca and pernod. It is common to drink a small 200ml bottle before a meal with ice and water, lunch or dinner, whatever floats your boat. It is very cheap and even the poorest of greece’s people could afford to get smashed on it most days.

Other drinks we found were Raki - made from fermented grape skins, clear 40% and flavoured like poison. It is very similar to grappa and is probably good for cleaning toilets and other things needing disinfecting. The funniest things is that you can only really buy it in old plastic water bottles from little shops, so it is not produced ina factory but in some little mans farm shed mmmm.

Mastic or mastika was one we found in santorini and is made form some funny tree. it is very sugary and only 25%. we bought a small bottle of this but could not finish it as it is too syrupy and the flavour gets to you after a few swigs.

Metaxa is another nasty drop and is a strong brandy. It is brown and about 38%. The national beer is Mythos and much to my suprise is quite undrinkable. I like most beers but found mythos to be quite incompatible with my delicate palate, gut and acid production. It is very bloating and so we had to settle for Amstel or Heineken - seems the dutch have somehow purchased the rights to the greek beer market.

In Naxos you can get a drink called Citron or kitron. It is made from the leaves of the Kitron tree which is a like a big deformed lemon. It is interesting but nothing special. Corfu does there own imitation by selling very fake brightly coloured orange liquor made from cum kwats, not that good at all.

There is a lot of red wine in greece but most of the bottled stuff is prohibitively expensive especially when you cannot be sure of the quality. The house wine form the barrel that most restaurant sell is quite cheap and not too bad mostly. It is usually 2.5€ - 6€ a litre. We had some in Naxos that was utterly disgusting and should have been condemned but otherwise mostly good. It is often served cold which is nice on a hot afternoon. You can take your old plastic water bottles to some supermarkets and fill your bottel from the barrel for 1.5€ a litre.

The main point of my story was ouzo. We drank quite a bit in the first three weeks then abruptly stopped as we had a bit of an accident. The night before we left crete we finally found a nice restaurant with delicious well priced food, good service music etc. We were so overjoyed we had a few beers, then a bottle of wine and then thought a quick 200ml bottle of ouzo at a pub. When we finished the first bottle corinne thought we should have another. I did think at the time that whilst it would be an interesting social experiment it may not be the best the next day. We ordered our 2nd bottle, much to the suprise of the old man who had only just brought the 1st to us. Then we wnet home and corinne vomited. The next morning we awoke to corinne’s alarm at 530am. We had to catch the bus at 530am for a 3hr bus to heraklio to catch a 2hr ferry to santorini. so we missed the first bus, argued a bit about a bad alarm setting, walked about 15 minutes with our 20kgs of packs, then got the next bus, then luckily our ferry. So many many hot sweaty hours later and after a 20 minute walk down a steep hill we were able to lie down in the bed of our place in santorini, after waiting 30 minutes for the room to be cleaned. ahhhhh. Ouzo caused us a few other headaches and one night in naxos too that i can’t remember much from either. We stopped drinking though and are better for it.

Oh and thats right there was another vomit on the ferry from crete to santorini, corinne says the seas were rough, but they weren’t.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Uhoh!! The evils of alcohol and cheap alcohol at that. Grappa was my choice in Assisi - ouch! XXX